Vintage Camera Illustrations // Contour Drawing Technique
Still life observational drawing is such a necessary skill to practice for our older students, but we are always on the quest to find interesting and unusual objects to draw! Put yourself in the shoes of these kids – you go to school all day, race home & get your homework done, spend the entire day (we mean week) looking forward to art class that evening (right??), and then you walk in to the studio to see a table set up with ugly vases and fake fruit. <<insert sound of needle scratching on record >>
Would you want to draw that?? (ok, in defense of fake fruit, we have done some killer chalk pastel citrus studies!)
Then contrast that experience with waltzing into the studio and seeing this!
What are those??! I’m old enough to have actually used one or two of these vintage cameras (I’m conflicted about the use of the word “vintage” in the context of this sentence) but most of these kids haven’t seen anything older than a Gen 1 iPod.
Miss Katie pulled these out of her bottomless bag of props, thanks to her good friend and awesome photographer Jesse Metzger! Among the many cool things she just randomly drags into the studio! If Katie doesn’t have it, we don’t need it. She either has it in her personal collection or knows someone who does!
We debated the best approach to tackling these illustrations. When it comes to observational drawing, the ultimate struggle with our 12-15 yr old class (well, really any class!), is teaching them to draw what they see, not what they think they see. Which is all the more reason to challenge them to draw something their brain isn’t already familiar with! Like these cool contraptions! (Put an apple in front of most kids and they will draw it without ever looking up from their paper. They’ll even subconsciously add a stem that doesn’t actually exist on the apple in front of them. Their brain already thinks it knows how to draw an apple!)
The other challenge with students this age is their expectation for perfection and propensity for getting frustrated very quickly! Once they get too lost in their heads, we lose them! It’s so challenging to keep them loose and willing to just go with the flow!
So the obvious answer to us was… a contour drawing!! (A contour drawing, simply defined, means once the pen touches the paper, you never lift it up until you’re done!) This drawing approach took their minds off whether or not it looked “perfect” (because a contour drawing isn’t supposed to look perfect!), and kept up a good pace. There simply wasn’t time to think too hard about it or beg for an eraser to start over! And it forced them to mostly observe the object they were drawing, vs. looking down on their paper.
Not to give away all of our little secrets, but we might have told them that this drawing was just a “practice” run. And before they knew it, an entire hour and a half had passed with them “practicing”, and they unknowingly created these amazing illustrations in the process!